Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back in the D.D.I.Y.

We've  settled back into island life and started back into some of our old hobbies.  It seems like all the recent weekends have been marginal weather, just windy or rainy enough to give us an excuse not to take a boat out.  That happens a lot this time of year.  We can pretty much count on afternoon atmospheric unease. Last weekend we did finally roust ourselves from our post cruise lethargy for a sail on the little Hobie Tandem Island.  It seems strange that we hadn't been sailing for over a month.   Well we fixed that.  Dooley the Disgruntled was more than happy to get strapped back into his life jacket and take up his rightful spot on one of the trampolines. We tried to show him Twisted Sheets from the water, but he's not entirely clear on the whole new boat situation just yet.  

We think he might have a distorted opinion of where we were actually located  during May and June. He may think that we were hiding down the street.  He watched us disappear into the airport in late April. He knows things about the airport.  He's been there with us many times  when we're picking someone up or dropping them off.  He doesn't associate the airport with us leaving.  He never sees that.  He gets dropped off at the kennel on the way.  Then we come back and pick him up on the way home.   So on his mind, the airport is the place where we sometimes go to collect fresh laps for him to climb into.    I imagine he was confused when we walked into the airport and then people he barely knew drove him away to his home, in our Land Rover, and moved in. Time went by. Then one day seven weeks later he went for a ride with the new people and discovered us actually living down at the South Side Marina.   He's suspicious.  

 I don't think he's quite convinced that Twisted Sheets is a boat.  Why should he be?  He's never seen it move.   We go on board, we work a few hours on things, and then we lock up and leave.  We think he might believe it's a condo where we hid from him for all that time.  It's hard to tell what he's thinking.   He's been playing things close to his chest, lately.  Unless there is thunder involved.  Then he'll play it close to ANYbody's chest.  We've been pretty skittish about electrical storms ourselves lately, come to think of it.   We're all testaments to Pavlov's observations around here.

We took a quick sail around  the marina and then headed out into some open water with a nice 18 knot breeze.  I didn't take a lot of Hobie sailing photos because you've seen them all before.   This is our home sailing ground.  We were sure glad to get back on the ocean.  There's just something about the sound of the wind and water that appeals to us.   I did shoot a short section of video of Dooley on the windward trampoline, as we ran downwind back to the marina after several hours of sailing:

I know I've written that things are getting back to normal, but that's not precisely accurate.  Things have changed for us after that trip. We're   aware of a lot of new possibilities that have opened up now that we own a boat we can live on.   Of course we're not getting too adventurous just yet.  We're moving into the thickest part of storm season now and we are not planning on sailing much further away than we can scoot back from if big chunks of the atmosphere start spinning on a large scale.   I don't even like to use that "H" word. The Turks and Caicos Islands went over 50 years without a significant hurricane, but have been hit with three of them since we moved here.   What's up with that.

Here's a couple of the reasons we hurried  through the Bahamas and didn't stop for a day here and a few days there anchored near some of the fantastically beautiful islands we passed on the way home:

"Ernesto to the right of me, Florence to the left, here I am: Stuck in the middle with you....."

I think we'll keep the boat close to home for the next few months.   We've got a lot of things to accomplish before we take off for an extended trip again.

Before I get off onto one of my DIY rants, I wanted to give a plug for a really nice restaurant experience we had.  People are often emailing us and asking us about hotels and restaurants on Providenciales.  Recently we went to a long time old favorite that's got a new venue .  This is a photo I snapped from our table at the Mango Reef restaurant last week.  I wanted to show you how the restaurant is situated right on the dunes on Grace Bay beach. I don't know about anyone else's criteria, but we judged this to be an acceptable place from which to watch a sunset over libations.

We'd been going to the Mango Reef almost weekly for several years. Then they left their old location at the Royal West Indies hotel and moved to this beach-side spot at the Alexandra Resort.   We went by for a meal right after the move, and it was raining  and the kitchen was disorganized, and the service wasn't very good.  So we hadn't been back.  We figured that they would get it all organized eventually and  we waited  to give it another shot.  We were very pleasantly surprised at how much better the beach location is than the old spot next to a hotel swimming pool.  The view is great, and the food, service, and staff were as good as we remembered..  We believe in saying good things when we find good things to say.   If you're visiting Provo and looking for a nice beach side dining experience give them a try.   They've become one of our favorites again, I think.  Right up there with Coco Bistro and Las Brisas. 

We've never spent a single night in a hotel on Grace Bay, or even on Providenciales.  So we're not the best judges of the fine points of the local room situation.  But we have been out to eat at a number of local establishments that are associated with hotels and resorts.  We've been to Opus, at the Ocean Club East. We recently went to Pelican Bay at the Royal West Indies.  We've stopped by Hemmingway's at the Sands Hotel a few times.  We've been to Coyobas at the Caribbean Paradise Inn, Bay Bistro near Sibonne, and Fairways at the Provo Golf and Country Club.   We've been to a couple of functions at The Palms, but I wouldn't judge their restaurants by those catered experiences. Not that they were bad experiences, just that they had nothing to do with menus or service.    The only actual rented room I think we've seen the inside of was at the Seven Stars and a condo where some of Dooley's readers from the USA were staying.

Now, while I'm on the subject of good meals, just a couple days after we returned to Provo in our new old boat we were visited by our friend Preacher.  We'd missed his birthday while we were out cruising the Bahamas in our rag-top Catalac.   Preacher came down to see the boat and brought us a sort of a boat warming celebration.  I think he was surprised that the two of us made the trip on our own.     We had a simple but very tasty local steamed conch and grits picnic style lunch on Twisted Sheets.  We didn't realize he delivered.  Even the local pizza shop won't deliver on this road.

Our local friends here handle birthdays a little differently than we were accustomed to back in the USA.  The birthday boy throws the party, and cooks for all his friends and family.  I know I've alluded to this local custom before.  We've been to several of Preacher's birthday cookouts.  And I personally will never forget ripping the seat out of my shorts at Froggy's birthday party over at Bottle Creek. It's a nice way to celebrate when you throw yourself a party.    Well, for most of us, anyhow.  I'm still a bit red-faced about that last local birthday party I attended on North Caicos.  Way too much exposure.

Dooley the Deranged has been acting tough since we brought him a new skull and crossbones pirate dog collar home from St. Augustine.  We'd been looking for a dog collar with stainless steel hardware on it - and Dooley I'm sorry if you're offended but you ARE a dog despite all the funny expressions you keep promising to show me  if I'll just supply the peanut butter- and we finally found one along the ICW in Florida.

We got to the southern terminus of our Florida/Bahamas/T.C.I. "vacation" trip over a month ago. . It was a little strange trying to sleep the first few nights in a room that doesn't move with the waves. We've stopped waking up every hour and stumbling out on deck to see if the anchor has moved. I've once again gotten accustomed to the idea that the patio at the house doesn't change compass headings with the tides. After the trip that we had, one might think we would be glad to be home. But the strange truth of the matter is that we miss being on the boat. It's sure nice to confirm that you've been right about something you've only dreamed about for years. A big Whew. Nobody gets sea sick. We're still speaking to each other. Often! We've each now confirmed that we love the seafaring nomadic gypsy adventure of living on a boat. We're grinning as we recount every moment of the trip. Imagining what a really nice cruise would be like. It's one of our main topics of conversation. What a a feeling of freedom to realize that you can take your favorite hideout and go from country to country using only the wind and sun. It's a comfortably exciting and challenging set of experiences that can go on for as long as you can maintain it.     

We've been playing "catch-up" with a lot of domestic chores, maintenance, and a torrent of of Danged D.I.Y. issues since the moment we got back. I'm talking about oodles of DIY. Adding an elderly sailboat to the collection did not simplify things in any way whatsoever. Yes, I know that chucking it all and sailing away is how the dream is written.   I know this dream like a favorite bedtime story learned by heart. The perception is that sailing is a simpler life, and in many ways that's true.   But maintaining a boat and its systems is an ongoing job that seems to be proportional to the size, age, and complexity of the boat.   Maybe we just need a simpler boat.  And we're working on that.

Some of the DIY projects going on are from necessity.  Probably the biggest example of projects that demanded our immediate attention was a leak in a forward bulkhead.  Remember the pounding I wrote about in the last post?  Well, unbeknownst to us at the time, those three days of pounding into the seas opened up an old scar that we didn't know about inside the boat.  Something the previous owner forgot to mention, I guess.   A few days after we got home I was checking all the bilge access hatches while tracking down an electrical problem.  This photo is of the bilge under the port side forward cabin.  I've peeled the carpet up and opened the access hatch.  Doesn't look too ominous in this photo, does it?

But if you look closely you might be able to tell that both of those compartments are completely full of sea water.  No kidding.   

I stuck my fingers in it and wiggled them to show you the water surface:

We think this happened about a week before we got home.  We had sailed all the way down the Exumas with several hundred extra pounds of water in the port bow.  And never noticed it.   Normally, as the boat was designed, this water would have migrated from compartment to compartment and been eventually pumped out by the main bilge pump  that is located in the deepest part of that hull.  We have four automatic bilge pumps and several manual and electric auxilliary pumps as well.   We can pump a lot of water.  But since the previous owner had decided to close up the drain holes between the compartents, water that gets into the bow no longer drains down to the lowest part of the hull where the pump is located.  Not sure if I like this better, or not.  Still thinking about it.  I see the thinking in keeping the water in a given compartment, but then I  remember that was how the Titanic was designed, too.  This boat was not originally designed this way.  I am mulling over the thought that anything that keeps sea water inside the hull by isolating it from the pumps might just be an inherently bad idea.   Right now I'd say there is a better than even chance I will decide to open up the holes between these compartments and let them drain down to where the boat will discharge it all overboard.    It also would mean that I don't have to go looking for sea water under various compartments.  I can open one small hatch in the middle and inspect the pump and float switch and see the bilge water all at once. That kinda makes the most sense, doesn't it?

The leak was not in the hull itself, but in the fender storage locker on the bow.   Water that splashes up over the bow of the boat gets into the bow lockers.  They're designed to be free draining.   But at some time in the past the plywood bulkhead that separates the forward port cabin from the deck locker had been cracked.  And looking at it now, I can see that someone had repaired it before.  They fiberglassed it.    We cracked it open again.

That crack ran all the way to the bottom of the locker.  And waves that landed on top of the bow got in there and worked their way into the hull.   It's probably a good thing I didn't know about this during the trip.  I would have obsessed over it and we would probably have been sitting somewhere for days while I fixed it.   Truth is, it wasn't a problem if water wasn't getting onto the top of the boat.  We only had one or two days that were that rough.

And it wasn't a problem like these guys had shorty after we returned.   VHF radio operator La Gringa  got involved with some more cruisers with a problem.   This monohull hit a coral head about half way between us and French Cay.  They hit the rudder hard enough to jam it all the way over and they were taking on water.   Once again,  the radio at the house  allowed us to relay information about a boat-in-trouble situation to the Marine Police. They went out to tow them back in.   Made our little leak seem mild by comparison.

We keep telling ourselves to take a weekend and go sailing somewhere, but it seems that  we keep getting involved with upgrading, cleaning, and repairing the boat.   I ordered two new alternators to repace the ones that haven't been the same since the lightning strike.   The people I ordered them from sent me the wrong ones.   This is a real pain in the patoot when you live somewhere like the TCI.  It's difficult and expensive to ship the wrong parts back.  And time consuming.  And frustrating.  I feel like an old grump when I say this, but some days I despair of finding simple competence when I have to order parts. A warranty isn't of much use to me.  I need it to be right the first time, to be the correct part and to work as promised.  Is that unreasonable?

That's the new alternator on the left, the one I want to replace on the right.   You can see that the mounting 'ears' are not spaced the same.

At first, when I emailed the supplier and told them they sent the wrong alternators I didn't get much in the way of a reply.   For several days I thought I was on my own with these things, and decided to see if I could make them work.  I took some pieces of our garage door openers that never worked, and  cut them into pieces and welded up an 'alternator adapter' bracket.   I figured that if I could get the new alternator pulley aligned with the engine pully, and firmly attached, it should work.   Here's my version of the bracket while I was welding it up:

But  after spending a day on it I was eventually contacted by the alternator people and they are sending two new ones down to us.  We still take it in the shorts on the shipping costs, but at least we'll have alternators that fit.  Oh well.  I needed the welding practice anyhow.  I found out that thicker steel is easier to weld.

Dooley the Dangerous has been spending a lot of time on the boat with us while we work on these projects.  A few days back I noticed that he was sitting out in the cockpit staring staring at something intently.  I went to take a look and saw that he was completely engrossed in watching this big bird standing on the next dock.  And the bird was watching him.  Neither of them was moving.   Like a Mexican Standoff without the pistolas.

 I don't know what Dooley was thinking.   I'm sure the bird was upwind of us so he knew what it wa more or less.  Certainly not a cat. That bird was easily twice as tall as the dog, and it didn't seem at all intimidated.   It's good that he can find things to occupy himself with, because I've had my hands literally full going from one project to the next.  I won't go into the entire list here, but will show you just a few more 'for examples'.

For example, we had noticed that our port side navigation light was very dim.   We noticed this in a driving rain squall when we were wondering if this big freighter could see us in the dark.   This was our last night at sea, in rain squalls and crossing the Caicos Passage with a failing electrical system.  I worked my way up on the bow to see if all our navigation lights were working.  They weren't.  Boy ain't that a warm feeling when big ships are bearing down on you in the dark.  Fixing the nav lights became another high priority, after fixing the leaks, and before fixing the radar.

 I have more or less started working at the bow of the boat, intending to address and rectify issues as I move toward the stern.  And I had plenty of projects on the bow alone.   I took the nav light apart and found out that the wiring had chafed all the way through. The positive lead was shorting to the steel bow railing.  Take a look at the wiring. I'd pulled some slack in it to get the damaged part out where I could work on it.

This sure solved a couple of  mysteries about what was tripping the circuit breaker sporadically as I frantically tried to figure out what was going on in the middle of a particuarly dark and stormy night, with a boat that looked like downtown Manhattan heading toward us.

While working on the wiring, I looked up the regulations and found out that the lights installed on the boat were inadequate (and illegal) for a boat this size.  The one on the left is the one that was installed.  It's for a smaller boat, and only has to be visible for a mile.   And maybe it would have been visible for a mile if the wires to it hadn't been shorted out.  I never found out, because the light on the right is the new one I just installed.  It's the right size for this boat length, and has to be visible for two miles.  Big difference in the shipping lanes at night.

While spending a lot of time working down at the marina we've met a few cruisers coming through.  Last week we met Cory and Rob on  the sloop Calypso's Fire.  They were in a bit of a bind after their centerboard cable parted, allowing the heavy board to open up a crack in the centerboard trunk.    Their pump was running continuously, and barely keeping ahead of the leak in the hull.    Being the really nice guys we sometimes try to be we loaned them the hookah setup on Twisted Sheets.   I told them I hadn't tried the system out myself yet, but that the previous owner had swore he used it often.  Cory was able to patch the crack with epoxy putty.   They radioed us their farewells  as they finally got out of Providenciales on their way to Luperon.   Dooley didn't care diddly about their boat problems.  But he was extremely interested in the two cats they have on board.

The majority of  problems that we are working though on our own boat are electrical. We've got two sets of issues.  Obsolete/substandard equipment, and stuff damaged on the trip down.  We've got a lot of original breaker switches on the boat that I can't seem to find replacements for. I've been thinking of just buying an entire new breaker panel, and mounting it over the holes in this one.   So far I haven't had much luck finding one with fifteen switches that will fit over this spot.

I think you can see why I want to replace these.   I've been looking for a source for these now for several weeks, but not having any luck.  This is one of the issues with buying an older boat.

Working in the marina does have some positives.  I find it generally peaceful, and relaxing.  I think just being on a boat does that to me.  We get to watch other interesting boats come and go.  I was looking at this photo (below) and trying to remember why I took it in the first place. 

Then I zoomed in on this part of it, and notice that it seems to be a boat with no spreaders on the mast, no boom that I can see, and apparently being sailed by a guy with a shaved head and wearing a skirt.

There must have been SOMEthing about it that was unusual enough to get my attention... but I sure can't remember what it was.

And working in the marina means we get to spend time visiting with some of the other marina residents.  Or near marina residents, as the case may be.  This is someone you've seen on this blog several times before.  He's usually standing on his boat Five Cays, and verbally abusing us as we leave the marina to go sailing, or fishing, or beach combing.  Lately he's been stopping by to shoot the breeze with us at the end of the day.

And some interesting conversations, indeed.   We know this gentleman as Stanley here at South Side Marina.  And on North Caicos he's known as Burly.  He tells us that in the Bahamas he's known as Mike.  Unless he's using his middle name, Louise.     He's got a wife and daughter on North Caicos, two sons on Providenciales, and is either 75 or 58.  I have  a witness to verify that I did not fabricate any of this.   I mean I have a witness in addition to Dooley who you really can't put on the stand. He just keeps pleading the fifth amendment and saying he doesn't remember.

And while we're spending time on board repairing, cleaning, and re-arranging, we've also been been lightening the boat as much as we can.  This load of chemicals, etc. that we took out of one of the lockers is probably a fourth of the total pile of these rusting cans and half empty jugs of various concoctions.   Many of them are printed in Spanish.   Since we're pretty sure the boat spent the past four years in Jacksonville, I think it's okay to assume some expiration dates have been met.    Paint cans should slosh when you shake them, right? 

We've removed the old mounting for the now-deceased wind power generator.  The stern and transom area is starting to look a lot less cluttered.  We've also given away those fishing rods since this photo was taken.

I wish I'd thought to take more photos of the water line on the boat when we left Jacksonville.  I well remember watching the exhausts for the two diesels bubbling away as they discharged cooling water.  This exhaust pipe was about half submerged before our new Twisted Sheets weight reduction program got some momentum.  It was near the top of the black paint.    I wish it was that easy to lighten up the captain.

For those of you who are not sailors, I should mention that most sailboats, and catamarans in particular, sail and handle better when they are kept as light as possible.   This boat has a lot of storage capacity built into it, and it's easy to load it up with unnecessary weight.  I think it suffered from a lot of 'out of sight-out of mind' syndrome.  We're working on trimming it back down to its original draft of 3 ft.  Instead of the 3.5 ft. that we sailed it home with.   And touched sand with.

I previously posted that when we hauled our anchor up for the last time at Abraham's Bay on Mayaguana..... the anchor windlass broke.   Well, this became another DIY I had to take on.  I completely removed the windlass, took it home to my shop and repaired it.  While I had it off the boat I noticed that the four big stainless steel bolts that held it to the deck looked suspiciously ratty.

Imagine how happy I was when I took the top bolt (above) and held it in a vise, and then pulled it apart with my bare hands!! I wish that I could tell you that I broke the bolt because I didn't know my own strength.

But the truth is that all of these bolts exhibited severe corrosion issues.  This crevice was right where the stainless bolt and the aluminum body of the windlass came together at deck level.  I have since replaced all these bolts, and cut a piece of half inch starboard to raise the windlass off the deck enough to keep it out of standing water.  I also made some isolating insulators to keep the stainless steel from contacting the aluminum windlass case.   File this under things I learned in the tropics.

Oh, and I cut a new bottom plate for it from aluminum sheet I had lying around the garage.

I don't know what would have happened if we had to rely on our anchor and windlass to keep us safe in a storm.  Would three bolts have held us?  Two bolts?   Glad we didn't have to find out.

I also remember telling you that we'd managed to get the dinghy outboard running on one cylinder up in a marina on Grand Bahama Island.  We were pretty disappointed that it was unreliable.  We had planned to spend a few days anchored in idyllic tropical settings, and use our inflatable dinghy to explore.   When we realized that we couldn't count on the outboard we postponed those plans, too.

So after the cracked bulkhead, bad navigation lights, broken winch bolts, wrong alternators, I eventually turned to tuning up the dinghy motor. I took the Mercury home and after cleaning up the carb and fuel filter and putting two of the correcly gapped and right model sparkplugs in it, I got it running pretty well.   Reading that back to myself, I'm amazed at how easy it sounds.... now.  Ten minutes, tops, I would think.  If I didn't know better.  First,  I had to make up some way to run it at the house so I made a frame out of wood and clamped it to the Land Rover tail gate.   I think it looks kinda sporty, myself.

All the DIY stuff I've listed here so far has been boat oriented.   And for each little project I've mentioned there are several more that I haven't even told you about.  We're still waiting for parts for several of them.  There are a lot of projects still waiting.  I still haven't climbed the mast, for instance.   There's probably enough for a blog post in that all by itself.

And even that isn't all of it by any means.  Remember that we left the house and automobiles here basically without much ongoing attention for two months.  I guess I could call it benign neglect.   Not long ago I was looking at some photos of early Antarctic explorers base camps.  The coffee cans and tools and canned goods and utensils that they walked away from decades ago are still in pristine condition. Preserved by the cold dry Anarctic climate.   Well, this is the complete other end of that scale.  Things here rust and fall apart seemingly overnight.  So when we returned with the boat after two months we were hit with a lot of things falling apart at the house, too.  Want some examples?  hah. That's  EASY.   And I don't even have to go into the ugliness of the termite damage.

For example, it was pointed out to me that the outside rattan patio table that we've been using for the last four years was exhibiting signs of being close to its unofficial expiration date.  It had a glass top, until recently.  I removed the glass to keep it from falling onto the patio and shattering.  I put a piece of plywood across the top, but was so ashamed of it that I removed it before this photo.    I had to agree with her, this thing had pretty much had it.

I stared at it for a couple weeks, and no matter what ideas I had about fixing it, I just finally had to admit that rattan work is probably beyond my capabilities at the present.  I couldn't fix rotten.  So I took some of that wood we salvaged from the beach at West Caicos and used it to complete  a couple more table projects that I had been working on to replace it.

This is wood with a history.  It all came from boats, and floated for some unknown amount of time before being washed up on a beach.   Where it lay for another unknown amount of time.    I think it's seasoned.

I'm trying something different as far as finishing the wood.   The legs on that one above are what I am calling 'aggressively rustic'.  Meaning I didn't want to put a lot of time into finishing something that I expect to turn gray and weathered shortly.  The grating is teak, and the rest of it is mahogany.  It should last.

And since I still had some wood to use up, and we could use another outside table, I made this one, too.

It's also salvaged wood. The black holes are where iron spikes originally held the mahogany planks together. I don't mind working with wood. I hate working with grease.

A few days ago the battery went dead on one of the Land Rovers. I wanted to check the alternator to make sure the belt was in good shape and all the wires were connected. I pulled the 'bonnet' release, and it nothing happened.   You know when you 'pop the hood' on a car it comes loose and literally pops up enough to get your hands under it so that you can trigger the safety latch?   Well, when I pulled this bonnet release, none of that happened.  So of course I pulled it harder.  Hard enough that the cable popped off of it.  I removed it to see if there was anything I could do to fix it.  You can see where one of the mounting lugs that normally hold the cable end had broken away.  I knew it was going to be a waste of time to try to glue it.

BUT I had a thought.   Remember the stainless steel tank we salvaged from the catamaran wrecked on West Caicos?  I've now cut the ends our of that  and have been chipping away at it when I need flat stainless steel.  I used the cutting wheel on a Dremel tool to cut out some small strips.

Those big circular holes are from where I cut four large flat washers out to go under the mounting bolts for the anchor windlass.  I'm getting a lot of use out of this tank.

The first little bracket I made broke after I bent it too many times and fatigued the metal, but my second attempt worked:

So, I installed this back in the Land Rover, so that I could pop open the bonnet, so that I could check the alternator belt.  This took the better part of a morning, by the way. And I found out two things.  The alternator belt was fine and the problem must have been a battery connector.  And the reason the bonnet didn't pop up when I pulled the release was because the part of the latch that is attached to the bonnet/hood itself was rusted up.   This is the part where the spring that 'pops the hood' is located.  So I had to free that up, clean the rust off, lubricate and re-install it.    And this is how so many of these projects go.   Starting with a dead battery, I ended up working all day on a bonnet release.   The battery issue got fixed in passing.  The original problem was the simple part.  Getting to it, well, that took some work.

I'll throw out another corrosion related DIY.  We've been having ongoing issues with light fixtures rusting up on us.  I became so frustrated with dealing with the rust stains on the floor that I even built my own version of a rust-proof floor lamp.

This time, the problem was that our two bedside reading lamps were rusting up.  To the point where we needed to do something.  By 'we', of course I meant 'me'.    We like these lamps.  They're solid and work well.  They've been sitting on the two tables bracketing our bed since they day they came home from the store.  So this is what happens inside the house.  Protected from the harsh environment that we have to deal with outside the house:

I managed to get the old paint and rust off. I used Ospho (phosphoric acid) on the steel, and repainted the lamps.  I used an enamel, and gooped it on as thick as I could.   Totally changed the look of the lamps:

I didn't bother taking a photo of the other one.  I painted it the same, but different.  If that makes any sense.   The blue and red are swapped on the other one.

Oh, I did find one little DIY project simple enough.  I'll pass it on here in case any of you have a similar situation and find it useful.   I have one of those big Casio Pathfinder wrist watches.  I love big wrist watches.  I think it's part of the reason I took up diving.  My Pathfinder has a compass, altimeter/barometer, motion sensor, thermometer, solar power, radio synched atomic clock... shows me the moon phase and the tides... I really like this thing.    And about two weeks ago the little keeper thing (I don't know the term for it) broke.  This is the little loop that holds the loose section of watchband so that it doesn't flop around.  And when it flops around, it keeps me awake at night.  It also gets in the way during the daytime.   So I figured it was time to buy a new watchband.   These Casios don't use ordinary watchbands.  I went online and found out that the watchband would cost me about $ 45. Plus $ 50 Fed Ex feess and plus 46%  customs duty, for an approximate total of $116.  Ouch.

This didn't set too well with me.  I didn't need the whole band.  I only needed the little plastic loop to keep it nice and secure. I tried an 0-ring.  It lasted about an hour.  I thought about duct tape, but the logistics and mess of that was unappealing.  Finally I remembered that I have all these scrap pieces of polyurethane irrigation system tubing laying around.  (Doesn't everybody?) This stuff is tough.  And it's black.  And in cross-section, it's just the right shape for a watchband keeper:

So if you find yourselves in a similar situation, and need a good, rugged, cheap keeper for your Casion watchband, this will work.   In a pinch:

This has turned into another one of those long blog posts.  And it's not even one of the interesting ones.  Sorry about that.  But I did want to explain why we haven't posted anything recently.  We've just been real busy getting our house back in order while also trying to make some progress with the boat.   And while I see most of the house DIY stuff as a real pain, I find I actually do enjoy working on the boat.

 There are so many plans in store for the boat I don't even have them all listed yet.   In addition to fixing things that need repairs we have a lot of modifications in mind.   We want to replace this hard bimini with a better design, and it needs to accommodate most of these solar panels and it would be nice if it incorporated a dinghy/radar arch, too. That will be a big project.   I'm sure you'll hear about it if you're still reading the blog at that point.

We want to get the bow railing fixed, and I have to install an ice maker in the space where I just ripped out a refrigerator. And of course, there's always that stuff up on the top of the mast that was hit by a lightning bolt: the vhf antenna, the radar, and the wind speed and direction.  And the steaming and deck lights.  So much for the simplicity of sail.

We've been watching the weather here, and looking for the right set of conditions to take the boat out sailing again.   We figure if we keep fairly close to Provo we can get some time under sail without every little thing being repaired before we go.  Heck, if ya wait until everything is perfect, you never leave the dock.    I think we've proven we can get by on less than perfect.

But we do miss the sailing.

And I have to admit that even though I whined about it at the time, there are worse places to spend an evening than in a nice, calm, protected marina. Was this really only a few weeks ago?

Right now the forecast for next weekend is looking pretty favorable....


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post! It always makes my day when I click on your link and there's a new post! You are like MacGuyver! The DIYs are just as interesting as the sailing exploits = but nothing compares to Dooley stories. Thanks again for taking the time to keep us all living vicariously!

Jon said...

great post as always Byron. I'm on my second "fixer upper" house, which I do most of the fixing on myself. So I fully appreciate your observation that a simple repair is almost always preceded by multiple, complex repairs discovered while attempting to fix the first thing. "for example", a couple weeks ago my wife finally pushed me over the edge to paint the guest bathroom. My wife's idea of that little job was something like Samantha's Bewitched blink and it's done. Simple, right? By the time I was done I had to remove and rebuild/replumb the sink, the toilet and the shower. Not how I envisioned spending that weekend.

Oh -- I do like the fact that Jeeps don't have those bonnet hatch release wires. One less thing.

Like you, I've had that "go a sailing" dream in my head for most of my life. Unlike you, I doubt I'll ever actually do it to a great extent. But have over the years worked my way up through boats to my current cruiser. I also find that I'd rather work on the boat than do anything house related. Which is sort'a odd when you think about it. When you own a boat of any size adequate to cruise, you become the power company, the electric company, the sewage company, the chief propulsion engineer, etc. What is it about water that does this to us?

Your quest to lighten and simplify Twisted Sheets made me think of a guy you might benefit from speaking with... James Baldwin (www.atomvoyages.com) James circumnavigated twice and is a proponent of simple cruising. As I understand it, he does good work consulting with people and refitting their boats for extended cruising with a practical, minimalist approach.


J Schieff said...

Great post! Can't believe all the repair issues with the new boat, but having owned boats for decades I sympathize. The breaker panel is such a good example of the huge frustration of trying to replace custom fittings that are no longer available.

I got the feeling that you are not only keeping up with the "repair/improve" list but gaining on it. Can't wait to read a post where most of the test is extolling the pleasures of cruising, not bewailing the pain of crisis management cruising. Wonder how Dooley the Delightful will like cruising?

kristine barr said...

Even though I'm a woman, I love reading your entire blog post-- especially the DIY parts. Of course the Dooley reports are good too.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gringos.....
Loved the 'Mexican Standoff' photo of Dooley & that bird...funny.

Also concur w. Mango Reef, Coco Bistro, & Las Brisas...our favorites too....great atmospheres, food, & service. Celebrated my
50-th at Mango Reef last year w. Clarance as waiter...fantastic.

Good luck w. the boat repairs & thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I hope for sanity's sake there is a cut off point. The boat can never be 100% perfect. One can spend their entire life time trying to achieve 100% perfection, when you think you are near, the first thing that you fixed a life time ago will start to peel and so the cycle will continue. Fix what absolutely needs fixing and go sail it and enjoy it. like the Land Rover, that novelty wore off ages ago, where half of it is fixed the other not so important parts not. As it should be. You can't get absorbed in fixing every single little thing on the boat. Just do the necessaries and enjoy it and fix things as they come.


Cooper said...

Another great post! For the switch panel, you might consider a custom one from SeaBob on the hull truth: http://www.thehulltruth.com/boating-forum/405655-custom-switch-gauge-panels.html

Anonymous said...

" Fix what absolutely needs fixing and go sail it and enjoy it."

We've gotten to that point.
We spent the weekend on the boat. Dooley has now been sailing and on his first overnight.

Anonymous said...

Byron, I came up with a great idea for you to try. How about writing a book "Tropical Island Living for Dummies". Your ingenuity continues to intrigue me. Keep up the fight and we look forward to the next post.
Lil Provo
New Jersey

Heather said...

Love the DYI stuff, your new tables are great!

jack hamlin said...

this blog is the new facebook. so addicted.